It’s evident that CUME is the name of the game in the PPM world. Sure you can talk about occasions and ATE, but in the end the only way to truly protect your station from the ebbs and flows of the imperfect Arbitron measuring tool is to have so many listeners that it doesn’t matter if a P1 with a meter goes on vacation. The dilemma is how do you build CUME without marketing dollars? It’s a question that came up recently over lunch with a friend.
1. Be consistent and compelling. It all comes down to what comes out of the speakers. Consistent refers to the quality of the content, not the actual content. Listeners want to invest time into a station that always delivers “the goods.” It’s not about being predictable (see also; boring), it’s about being reliably entertaining and informative. In order to be compelling, you have to create something. It’s no longer acceptable to simply identify and debate the top stories. You must tell stories, make emotional connections, tell the listener something they didn’t know before, put it into context and make it relevant. You should strive to get the listener to say to themselves, “I never thought about it that way before.” If you are able to be consistent and compelling, your listeners will be your marketing campaign. They will tell friends, colleagues and social media networks about what they heard on your show and station, driving new CUME directly to you with a personal endorsement from someone they already trust.
2. Be the station for SOMETHING. Whether it’s traffic on the 5′s, the most accurate weather, breaking news coverage, election coverage, a team’s information station, finanical news, war coverage or other, pick a position and own it. If you don’t have one already look around the market and figure out who / what is being underserved. When you brand your show or station as THEE source for “x” you must tell people what you’re going to do (make a promise), do it (keep the promise), and remind them that you did it (proof of performance). Over time, this will drive CUME to your station, because everyone in the market will eventually know if “x” happens, you go “here.”
3. Social Media. Yes, we all know we need to do social media, but many shows/stations aren’t doing it right. Twitter and facebook are not meant to only tease your show. This is a chance to interact with fans. There are a couple important things to remember; update often and reply to responses. When you respond to a listener’s comment you make a connection. That person will tell his/her friends that you responded and maybe share your response with their social network. That’s the key. You need to find ways to tap into listener’s social networks. Some hosts are now inviting core listeners with large social networks into the studio for a day to blog, twitter, and facebook about what they see, here and experience while at the station. You can also use social media for contesting especially with location based programs like foursquare and give prizes to the first 10 people to check-in at a location.
4. Event Programming. Capitalizing on a major events or stories that your station can own; The Japan Earthquake/Tsunami, The Super Bowl, The Election, etc. Event programming needs to be heavily branded and reinforced during and after. It may include going commercial free or if you can plan far enough in advance attaching a sponsor to it.
5. Station Events. The model for this is WIPs “Wing Bowl.” But, don’t be intimidated. You don’t need 20,000 people to attend your station event to be successful. The key is to provide a unique experience, that listeners determine to be remarkable (ie. Worth talking about.) Stations need to think big and bold and create an experience or provide access that listeners otherwise couldn’t get on their own. It could be a limited-access, high-end tailgate party or an invitation-only leadership seminar featuring big names from the lecture-circuit for selected clients and listeners. Think big. For example, a 10×10 tent at a local car dealership doesn’t count.
Doing one of these things won’t be enough to drive the amount of CUME you need to maintain through a calendar year to be PPM-proof. Find ways to address all of these and if you can secure marketing dollars great, but be strategic and have something to say.
I’m staying at the Olive 8 Hyatt in Seattle. It’s a cool, hip, new and proud to be a certifiable green hotel. The people are friendly and accommodating. They have this cool, energy-saving, lighting system which uses your room key to operate. Big, fancy, sliding, mirrored doors conceal the bathroom and closet. I lost track of how many pillows were on the bed, but there are more than anyone person could want or need. The hotel and rooms are open, spacious and make you feel important.
On a practical level, however, it’s not as user friendly. The alarm clock is an hour off and I can’t figure out how to reset it. It also doesn’t light the time up at night, so I can’t see the time when I roll over in the middle of the night. The desk chair I’m sitting at is broken. The seat won’t lift higher than about a foot and a half off the ground. It’s like I’m typing above my head. And I didn’t realize going green meant you could only use 1-ply toilet paper. (Who knew gas stations and rest areas were trend setters in the green movement?)
The lesson here for your radio station or show is to not be so distracted by the bells and whistles that you forget to invest in the the very things that the people you are serving need, want and expect. If you don’t fulfill them, they will go somewhere else to find them.
Hotels and radio stations take heed — It’s not all about the packaging; it’s the content or contents of the package that will keep them coming back.
Social Media can be exciting or scary. It can be seen as an opportunity or burden. Admittedly, some broadcast companies are embracing it with open arms, building communities and making money. Others resist it as a personal affront reminiscent of the Mom Gifford rant of 1979 in objection to the microwave oven. She’s since gotten over it, but many radio companies are still fighting the need for social media.
Enter Nate Riggs.
“Don’t try to do everything all at once. Pick one thing that you’re going to do 110% and get really good at. If it’s a Facebook page invest your time and energy in building a community around that Facebook page and engaging in that community. I think it’s a perfect complement to radio, because radio is traditionally a push medium; we listen to radio.”
Nate is a business communications specialist, a marketer and social media content engineer based in Columbus, OH. In a podcast interview with Larry Gifford Media, he says that the most important thing a radio station can do is to assign a real live body to their social media efforts.
“General rule of thumb: don’t get too hung-up on the shiny bells and whistles and the technology it’s more about really coming up with the content and putting humans on-air or on-line that are going to make that content work with the audience. If you think about it, that’s not too far off from what successful radio shows already do.”
Nate recently wrote a blog piece offering free advice to the Morning Zoo at WNCI-FM in Columbus. He tells LGM that there a ton of opportunities for radio stations in the social media space.
“Most radio stations will have remotes or go out and have events at night clubs, restaurant, or concerts and I think there’s a huge opportunity to even have things like location-based check-ins with services like foursquare or even Facebook places especially for contesting.”
In keeping in line with that personal connection to the fan, Nate suggests each personality have his or her own account instead of the radio station in general or a show. People want to interact with people not things. It also allows you to really focus your messaging to the people who want to receive it from that show or personality.
The big question is how do you convince your web master that it’s okay to be promoting Facebook pages and twitter accounts over pushing fans through the station website? Nate thinks it might time to change that paradigm.
“Is it more about engaging the audience and really keeping them and having them as part of the conversation or is about spiking website traffic? The ads that are on the radio station website aren’t really getting seen by that many people. There is some click-through and there are some impressions being delivered, but internet ads on those particular websites have become very much like TV; a big portion of the audience glazes over and doesn’t even see them. “
So, as you and your station begins to tackle the social media landscape, what’s most important? Here are Nate’s Top Three Things…
1. Go get the education. Go to the conferences like Social Fresh, south by southwest, blog world and dozens of other events bringing these experts to the table. It will help you get your head around how to use it.
2. Use it as a personal user. How can you ever take a technology and apply it to your business if you haven’t taken the time to understand it for yourself? Go out and connect with old classmates on Facebook or get on twitter and start to follow people, start a blog, and do something that will allow you to have the experience in this space to start to get your head around how to apply it to your business
3. Leverage radio. Radio is a passive medium; we use it when we drive, when we are doing other things, when we are sitting at the computer. There is a huge advantage there. You might have someone sitting at a computer and if you can drop a message on the air they have an opportunity right then and there to take an action and get on line. Don’t ignore that opportunity. That’s going to a big thing that is going to help radio convert listeners to the online space.
Looking ahead Nate says to keep your eyes open for the rise of group texting sites like “groupme”
Nate Riggs is a business communications specialist, a marketer and social media content engineer based in Columbus, OH. He started Nate Riggs Social Business Strategies at www.nateriggs.com and @nateriggs on twitter.
Listen to the podcast here: Nate Riggs – Social Media Podcast
Weclome to the blog. Larry Gifford is a radio management consultant and talent coach. He is available for ongoing or project based consulting for U.S. and International radio groups, stations, and talent
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